The biggest kitchen table

4 January 2009
I've had a very relaxed time since Christmas day just lounging around, knitting, watching cricket and thinking. I sometimes wish my brain would take a holiday but it keep churning out thoughts for me to reflect on. Oh well, it's better than the alternative. In the midst of a knitting frenzy yesterday, just after Ricky Ponting's duck (!), which is a cricket term for zero score, I started hatching this plan.

I've said previously that I wish I could wander into your homes and talk to you about various things; sometimes I have long and involved emails conversations with you; some of you have said you'd like me as a neighbour, a mum or a grandma. I remember those times when families and friends sat around the kitchen table discussing problems and learning how to do various things. I started thinking about how that dynamic could be replicated here, where we could all share our experiences and skills and pass that knowledge on to the younger and more inexperienced folk.

Despite what you read and see in the media, us older people aren't sitting around twiddling our thumbs. We are doing what we've done most of our lives - we're living each day, learning what we can learn, and passing on what we know to those who want to learn it too. I am over 60. I don't feel that age, in fact I don't feel any particular age, and yet when I look at my hands and face they tell me that much time has passed by. Happily, over those many years I've built up a collection of information that isn't always valued by our society but I think is worthwhile repeating. It's mainly the practical stuff that most lives are built upon. A lot of it has already been written about here, however, I intend to revisit topics like bread and soap making, preserving/canning, food storage, budgeting and stockpiling, composting, what to expect when you buy your first chickens and how to care for them, growing from seeds, how to build a garden from scratch, how to cook from scratch, how to develop flavour in food without adding anything artificial, the value of productive work, developing satisfaction in being a homemaker and other things as they cross my mind. I've talked to Hanno about this and he said he'd help me with some posts on outdoor chores and maintenance - how to attach a rain barrel to your house, cleaning out a water tank, simple car and lawn mower maintenance and whatever other things he thinks of.

I will write on these subjects and add photos for tutorials, then it's over to you to take up whatever is of interest to you and carry out your version of it in your own home, and post about it too. Add your photos so we can all see what you've done, if you've improved on what I did, or made a mistake. I'll link to everyone who takes part, you link back to every one in the group and we will create the world's largest metaphorical kitchen table, all discussing the one subject and how we all do it. I think it will be a great way for us all to expand our ways of doing things at their best The novices will learn from a range of different people, the more experienced will share their knowledge and, hopefully, improve on what they're already doing.

At the moment I'm thinking I'll do that post on a Friday, maybe once a month (or fortnight) to start, so you have the time over the weekend to add your post. Monday I can answer questions and link to whomever has joined in. So what do you think? Is it a good idea? I hope it's a way to share the knowledge we all need to live simple enriched lives, it's a way to more independence and it's a way to forge friendships and make a community around a very big (virtual) kitchen table.


  1. Yes I think it is a wonderful idea. But I need to know how do I "link up" with people. Sorry to have to start at such a basic. i love your blogg, look at it everyday.
    I have made your soap and love it, gave it as Christmas presents, everyone was so pleased with it. I am getting ready to make laundry soap and dishwasher soap.
    All because of you and your site. Thankyou, thankyou for all you do!!!!

  2. It sounds like an interesting idea, so I will look forward to your first topic to see if it's something I can participate in. Can I request that you include dealing with a tomato glut as one of the 'kitchen table' discussions?

  3. I have often thought bring back the large kitchen table,or front porches, times of hanging out and chatting,and learning.
    I'm in my 50's and work experience is in finance as I was a bank manager for years.
    I learned other skills on how to live frugal from my Grandmother whom I bless everyday for the advice and time she spent speaking with me and teaching me...
    I agree Rhonda this would be a Great experience to be had by all faithful followers , who may have added advice to a topic.

  4. Hello Eileen. I just checked that you have a blog, so you'll be able to link into this. In fact anyone with a blog can. All you have to do is to highlight the title of the post we want to share, copy that title (press ctrl + C at the same time) then write about the post in your own blog. HIghlight the post title in your blog and while it's still highlighted, click on your little link icon (next to the T on the top of the post box) and paste (press ctrl + V at the same time)the title in the text box that will appear. That will allow people to go to the link just by clicking on the words you highlighted. I hope that makes sense. You can link to my blog or any of the other blogs who have joined in.

    Hi Toria and Mrs Sharp. Thanks for your feed back. : - )

  5. Wonderful idea. Like many mums of young kids, it is hard for me to meet up with like-minded people, which is why I find the blog community so inspiring. I really want to make some big steps this year in terms of fruglity and simplicity, so this sounds like a great way to do it. Thanks.

  6. Great idea!!!


  7. Ooooooooh, this sounds like such a wonderful idea! I can't wait! I don't have a Blog though, so will I be able to participate?
    I loved your idea of knitting dish cloths so I taught myself to knit from one of the online sites you mentioned. A knitting coworker has helped me out too. I've been a knitting fiend for the last month. I have made about 10 already. The first few were awful, but I'm a pretty quick learner. I made a pretty blue basket weave one that is sooo pretty! I can't wait to make some for presents.
    I already clean with homemade solutions of vinegar and baking soda and I've been making my own laundry detergent for about a year, but there is so much more I want to do. When I read your Blog I think it is actually possible. You are such an inspiration! I can't thank you enough for the time and consideration you put into this Blog.


  8. Count me in. I love the idea of small maintenance items.

    I agree with Toria, ideas on gluts and preserving food will be a great idea. But how to do this all at the same time when we are all in different hemispheres?

    Oh and a knitting tutorial would be fab! I have watched some on you tube but I still cant do anything but garter stitch!

  9. Oh, how wonderful! A virtual kitchen table as well as a virtual green and simple living family -- super! Count me in!

    Blessings to you!

    -Lacy & Family

  10. Brilliant idea! I do look for new additions to your blog every day, and while I'm old enough to remember a lot of the things up for discussion, the reminders and the sense of linking to a worldwide community are marvellous.Thanks again, Rhonda...

  11. Love the idea, altough you post about soooo many interesting ideas I never find time to read it all in full...need more hours in the day!! x

  12. Rhonda I love the idea of Hanno adding home maintenance advice. I'm sure there are many of us who miss the wisdom of fathers and grandfathers on home maintenance and handyman skills around the house.

    Lol, men are sometimes much better at working out some of the practical things like constructing water tanks, putting up fences and maintenance of lawn mowers.

    Haven't posted for awhile-but still a long-time reader. Wow, since June 2007 was it? Amazing!

  13. Quite quite brilliant Rhonda. :-)

  14. Excellent idea Rhonda. I didnt know about linking properly either, so thanks for that littel educational too!

  15. Sounds like a great idea. OK, we are often in opposite seasons when it comes to gardening and such but so what? We can just store the knowledge until needed or contribute with comments and suggestions anyway. Pooling knowledge and helping each other develop fits right in with the philosophies of all regular readers I am sure. Go for it Rhonda.
    Greetings from our winter wonderland in Uppsala, Sweden
    Ramona K

  16. I am not going to be able to participate, I am very private due to a stalking situation but I do enjoy reading this blog. I hope that a lot of people are able to participate.

  17. I love this idea it would help me greatly. Although I don't comment much I never fail to read your posts.
    Happy New Year Rhonda & Hanno.

  18. I think it is a great idea. Let's give it a try.

  19. I am loving this idea. I will be watching closely to see how this evolves. I have already loved so many of your recipes and idea's that Im sure this 'kitchen table' will become a 'backyard party' in no time.

  20. I'm liking that idea, too. I think it will help me focus on those important skills and how fun ! to stay connected with other like-minded folks.

    Oh, how I've been straying, Rhonda.

  21. Hi Rhonda,
    I'm loving this idea and I have finally started blogging again. My Word for 2009 is "nurture" so this is yet another way that I can help to nuture knowledge in others. Today I am off to a friends house with my fowlers vacola unit and jars to help her preserve her apricot glut. I'll be sure to take lots of pics and post about it in the next few days. I'll let you know when I do :)

  22. *Love* it Rhonda, what a wonderful idea :-)

    Cheers, Julie

  23. Dearest,

    Count me in here at Honey Hill Farm! I am 47 and know a little about a lot of things, but I am always interested in learning more.

    My Mom passed away when I was just 23 and a brand new Mom myself. How I wish I would have had someone like you to guide me all these years.

    I will gladly take a seat at this wonderous table!

    Yours kindredly,
    Honey Hill Farm

  24. I love, love, love the idea. I'm glad your brain doesn't go on holiday! :o)
    I'm such a novice at all this - it will be a wonderful help.
    Rachel L

  25. Lisa, you can't post your photos on a blog but you can still join in. It should be fun.

    Hi Ramona in Sweden. I had a Swedish grandma. :- )


    Lis, what a great thing to do. Teaching someone to put up their own fruit is a very empowering thing. Good on you! I hope you come home with a few jars of apricots.

    Good luck with the birth, Rachel. :- )

  26. Thanks Rhonda, I'm keen to join as well. I'm just about to unearth the fowler kit my mum gave to me a few years ago, and have found your posts on preserving the harvest very inspiring. Your blog is a wonderful place to visit, it does remind me of the things my grandmother talked about, and practiced every day. Thanks again, Marita

  27. I was getting excited half way through your post! This is just another one of your fantastic ideas. Thank you Rhonda Jean!

  28. I am so excited! Thank you for doing this. I read you all the time and I really could use some advice on certain thing. Thanks again. Tam

  29. I too am glad your brain doesn't take a holiday!!
    I love the idea of a virtual kitchen table, can't wait for the first one :)
    Thankyou Rhonda.

  30. Hi Rhonda - I too think this would be absolutely fabulous - I don't have a blog either though will this be a problem???

    I have pickled beetroot from my very own garden for the first time ever!!!!! By following your tute on sterilising jars and pickling!!! WOW! I'm so clever BUT only thanks to your advice.

    The beetroot was golden beetroot, I had no idea when it was growing and when I pulled it out I had to do a google search as I thought I had planted the wrong seeds!!!

    I had NO IDEA that beetroot could be a colour other than red!! (isn't that terrible and yet another reason why the kitchen table is a great idea).

    Blessings Always

    ps when is it going to start??

  31. Rosie, I reckon the first one will be this coming Friday.

    Everyone can join in and ask questions but you will only be able to write about your own experiences and photograph what you do if you have your own blog.

    I'm pleased you all think it's a good idea. It will be interesting to see how it goes. If I have time, I'll make up a badge for anyone who's taking part in it.

    Thanks for the support and feedback, everyone. : ~ )

  32. What a fantastic idea, Rhonda! I figured that the bigger the 'kitchen table' the better. LOL
    I'm always interested in what other people are doing; gardening, canning and preserving, sewing, maintenance of home and yard, anything that gives me a sense of independence. I've replied to many of your posts, as well as others, but I don't have a blog yet. Your idea has just given me the necessary nudge to get going and create a blog. I learned so much from my mother, aunts, and grandmothers that I would love to pass some of the ideas on to others. I'll be looking forward to Friday's post...Good Luck! Hugs, Aunt Bea

  33. What a wonderful idea. It will be so much fun.

  34. It sounds like a wonderful idea! I learned some skills from my mother and some elderly aunts, but I did not use them for such a long time that I forgot a lot.
    Thank you for all you do, and (belsted) best wishes for the new year 2009!

  35. I love the idea of us all sitting around a kitchen table - what a genius idea, Rhonda Jean!

    I hope you and Hanno have an absolutely lovely new year! Matt and I send our love across the oceans.

  36. I just created a blog!!

    Still not 100% sure of what it is exactly (I thought this site was a blog??)

    Anyway, I just went to the home page and at the top righthand corner it has 'create blog' - just clicked and followed the directions and now I have a blog!

    Guess I will learn as I go - just like I have with my new lifestyle.

    Blessings Always

  37. What a wonderful idea!
    Although I'm in Germany and some things might be different here, I'd love to join the table. I only have a little roof-garden and would be very happy if you could include some tipps for gardening in small spaces.
    Blessing to all of you!

  38. Brilliant idea, I could do with more help growing things in my potager. Although it is under the ground hard with frost at the moment.

  39. Hi Rhonda,
    I also love this idea. Although I do not have a blog, [not to savvy on how to do that] I will join you around the table. I live in Sydney, in a home unit on the Pacific Hwy. so will look forward to trying to implement some of your ideas with only limited space and would really enjoy hearing how other unit dwellers adapt to the simple life. I am now officially retired and I'm raring to go with this.
    Blessings Gail

  40. I would also love to be part of this but dont have a blog either. So it looks like I will just be reading and asking the occaisional question. Sounds fantastic though and i cant wait!
    Cheers, Juanita.
    Ps my potatoes will be ready for harvest in about 3 weeks. I have 29 plants so hoping for a good crop.

  41. Sounds good to me too! I appreciate your commitment to another 'project'.

  42. It would be a good idea if it was something new but you've already written about those topics, they're in your archives for anybody to look up so we're just going to be reading the same old stuff again.

  43. A worldwide kitchen table - love it! One of my most favorite things is sitting around the kitchen table chatting or hanging on the front porch visiting with neighbors.
    I look forward to the wealth of information this will provide to get me a step closer to learning how to live more frugally and peacefully.
    Thanks Rhonda

  44. A real-life kitchen table would be wonderful and I would welcome it but sadly it seems my friends and people around me are not interested in the same things so a virtual kitchen table will really be a wonderful thing! I look forward to joing in :-)

  45. What a great idea, if I can manage it I would love to contribute as well.

    Can I put in a request for a lesson on darning socks?



  46. I think its a brilliant idea Rhonda, you have so much knowledge that can help people in thses difficult times.....I am always referring people to your blog if they take heed of what you write is up to them, but as you know I support the idea that we should live as simply as possible. I have just finished reading Nella Lasts two books, she managed to feed her husband and two sons very well during the war and also do a great deal of voluntary work as well because she stockpiled goods when they were available, preserved food and made jam. She sewed dolls and clothes. I must admit she did seem to have some help in the house which I think was quite common for 'middle class' families, certainly my grandmother had help during the early part of her marriage before my grandfather died from TB. In those days there was no such thing as life insurance or pensions so my grnadmother had to earn a living from her skills, she was a tailoress and worked from home. She taught me to sew and also lots of little wrinkles for making do.

    I look forward to reading your posts with interest.....and doubtless will be joining you 'roung the kitchen table'.

  47. What a fabulous idea. Oh how I long to fellowship with like minded women around the kitchen table learning and sharing practical homesteading skills. I look forward to reading the posts. Maybe I'll meet someone on your blog who lives in my neck of the woods (Maryland, USA) who would be willing to visit. Denise

  48. I love the idea and can't wait to start reading and learning that much more. :)

  49. Great idea! I will wander in and keep track of what is happening at the big table, cuz there is always something good going on here!

  50. Rhonda Jean, I think this is a wonderful always you have done it again. I mainly lurk, but I check your blog everyday, and it has meant so much to me. You are definitely that mom/neighbor that I wish I had. Your positive look on life and vigor is so encouraging. Thank you, thank you.

  51. Great idea ~~~ look forward to everyone sharing advice. It's amazing how much we can learn from one another.
    I would be interested in the 3 Gift Challenge from last year and how everyone did. I did fairly well and will post about it next week.

    ~ New Year Blessings ~

  52. Virtual kitchen it! I was just thinking how to ask you how to start a garden, what one basic book you'd suggest I buy about home gardening (we actually need something for the Southern California climate area) and there you go coming up with this great idea.

    This spring we're moving beyond the baby steps of the side yard (where only the herbs succeeded enough to make it financially viable) to replanting the whole backyard as a food garden. I need hand holding!

    I'm in my fifties and you are a good role model of how to connect the generations across these vital issues we all face. I believe that living frugal, communal and green can bring us all together. It's not just the younger people who want to create a better world.

  53. Very good idea. Do you think it would work for those of us in the U.S too since we are in different time zones as well as hemispheres? If you do gardens, I would love the knowledge (and need it desperately actually) but the ground will remain frozen for at least another 3 months. So I guess the question is can we participate in those things through discussions but not through actual projects/photos, etc?

  54. This is a fantastic idea, though I don't have a blog (yet...too much to do in the real world) and will just have to follow along.

    When I was growing up our kitchen table was the center of our home. Even now, when we kids visit for holidays and such, everyone is in the kitchen. My dad can't figure it out, but the rest of us know why.

    Carolyn from Pennsylvania

  55. Hi Rhonda.

    What a fantastic idea.
    I have just started my own blog with my aim to do 101 things in 1001 days to be able to become more green, simple, frugal etc.
    I'm 22 and my husband and I are trying for a baby, i am trying to learn new skills that will enable me to be a stay at home mum when the time comes. I'll need every trick in the book to be able to stretch my husbands money as far as possible.
    I will most certainly take part!
    As i have a blog i will be able to link too!
    Many thanks for your constant inspiration!

  56. I love, love, love this a Mum of three young kids I often feel isolated and some of friends don't 'get' my love of gardening, homemaking, sewing, cooking etc. It would be lovely to chat with like minded souls!
    I'll be pulling up a chair!

  57. A great idea - I check your blog regularly and look forward to getting even more ideas from you as to how to go about being the sort of housewife I'd love to become!

  58. Hi Rhonda, I've been reading your blog for some time now, and always look forward to your writing. One thing I'd like to read about, as a person who's starting to learn to cook from scratch, is basic soup-making. It's winter here in the US and I've tried making a couple soups from scratch and they are okay but not great. It's so hard to start when I am really not sure what I'm doing. Would love a post about soup.

    Happy new year,
    Jessica in Minnesota

  59. This comment has been removed by the author.

  60. I love the idea! I'm not quite sure how this "linking up" will work for me - I also am not updating my blog as often as you do, I'm busy at school most of the time - but I'd so love to participate in this! You have my promise that I will, as much as time allows.
    I also love the idea of Hanno sharing the maintenance knowledge. It's something I'm seriously scared of in the idea of having my own household! Father takes care of all of this.
    Oh, and I'll be glad to ask my grandmas for some tips from the Czech side of the globe! I'm sure they know some clever recipes and such. I also noticed that some of the things you need to point out for your English speaking readers are quite natural for me (like hanging laundry on lines - we've never had a dryer), so maybe there actually are more you haven't touched upon yet, and they could be useful for someone! I know during the communist era people had to do a lot of things for themselves, because things were hard to find in shops, and I think - I hope - the spirit still remains with lots of people here. Definitely with my father it does.

    By the way, I got a little book on making soaps from my sister's boyfriend for Christmas. There's even a recipe on making soap from lard, which is probably the cheapest fat I'm using all the time - great! I think now I'm bound to start making my own soap. :-) Also, my former art teacher whom we visited before Christmas with two of my friends (and who's, for a big part, my role-model), praised washing "powder" made of soap a lot. So you're not the only source I know about it from, and I think I'm bought on that now... It could be a big money saver for us.

    Recently I've also experienced the wonderful feeling of having a local community where you can find support for your activities. I took up bobbin lace - I've learned the basics from one of my grandmas, I've always wanted to. I need my own bobbins, they're not so easy to find (especially if I want ones similar to grandma's), but I got a tip that a man from our congregation could make them for me, and he really promised to. Let's see what comes out of it!

  61. Great idea! I'll be looking forward to participating!

  62. Love your blog. I have learned so very much from you. I am 56 years old married to a high school math teacher (second career). I have two grown children-- a 30-year old daughter who lives in town with me and a 26-year old son who is a props artisan and lives in Florida. Arts people don't have a lot of money normally and especially not now with the economy the way it is. I often send your articles to him and he finds them very helpful. I don't have a blog, just an email address but I will be happy to participate.

  63. Obviously where I live I have the opposite seasons from you. Can I post as I learn how to make a more "year-round" garden this year? My mom got a book for me that tells me month by month what I should be doing in my area, and I really want to do this after reading your (and towards sustainability) blogs this year. Please post any info you can. I love reading! Kelly in SC

  64. Wonderful idea. I like that like-minded people can "virtually" get together to swap ideas. I am new to this movement and many people my age (I am 31) look at me like I am from another planet when I tell them I make my own bread, cleaning supplies, cook from scratch, etc...etc... It would be great to be able to see progress of other people's lives in one arena as well as learning from people who have been doing this much longer than I have. Great idea - can't wait.

  65. I think this is a great idea!

    I would certainly like to participate, but I can't guarantee I won't mix up the 'linking', or even if I will be able to I have already broken my feeder, I think.

    Anyway, I'll be sure to stop by and comment when time allows.

    Blessings on your day!

  66. Wonderful idea! What great things we can learn!

    I presented you and your blog with an award for your cultural and ethical values. No obligation to do anything with it, but come by my blog if you'd like to pick it up!

  67. this is a awesome idea - although i dont comment much i read your blog all the time...

  68. Great idea Rhonda. I don't have a public blog so I'll just be following along on here and hoping to visit a few bloggers who link.

    I don't think it matters that we're all in different time zones; this project isn't just for this week or this month, I think its something that will be around for a long time and so in the end, the seasons wont really matter.

    So few families live close these days and the opportunities to pass on or learn the acquired wisdom isn't there. I think the virtual kitchen table will be filling a real need!

  69. I know it has yet to start and you have all kinds of wonderful ideas on your list of discussions, but might I make a post request? I've been reviewing a lot of your posts on how to save money and one idea I really like, but have a hard time with, is eating more meatless meals. My husband is a meat-a-holic and I was always raised with meat as the center of your meal. As a woman in my early 20's, I think it's something that came about with my parents- finally meat was less expensive, people were making more money, and it was a status thing. To provide meat at every meal seemed like a good thing. But of course now we know it's not all that great. So I would like to try to slip in another meatless meal once in awhile. But I have very few ideas other than pasta, and the meals have to be hearty enough to make my husband forget or not notice that there isn't any meat in them. Do you have any ideas?? Even one simple recipe would be helpful. :) Thank you!

  70. I am 23, and your post inspire me. I am married and luckily have no debt and I am setting my life up for a child. You blogs (a daily with a cup of tea) have made life simpler, and save me lots of money. Thank you I have learned a lot from you, and I can not wait to hear from the kitchen table!

  71. Happy New Year Rhonda and Hanno!
    Because of encouraging blogs like yours I finally have jumped into a blog. One-step-at-a-time, as my little dearie has napped, this "Grammie" has learned to be somewhat 'techi'.
    I am excited about the virtual Kitchen Table. All your readers have so much to share and I applaud the encouragement you extend to everyone to participate. Thank you for all you do in bringing out the Best in all of us.

  72. This is a great idea. I do not have my own blog, but I will certainly follow along.
    I read your blog every day and you are such an encouragement.

  73. This sounds like a wonderful community offering. Shared knowledge , experience , strength and hope. Wonderful.

  74. I would love a spot at the "table." I am starting back to school (for the first time in.. ahem... decades) so don't know how much participating I'll get to do.

    But, I would love to join, and I promise not to drink all the coffee!

  75. A wonderful idea, Rhonda :) I'll be joining in whenever I can. I think it is so important for us to learn from eachother.



  76. This is a great idea! I am not so young but very inexperienced. I want to live a simple and good life like you describe and have and so far I have lived vicariously through reading and wishing but I have and will continue to start making changes, some small some smaller (lol) and this kitchen table discussion idea sounds like another winner for motivation and encouragement. Bee - sorry cant use my google ID for some reason.

  77. Hi There,

    What a fabulous, inspiring blogger you are. Love it and love the reinforcement that I'm on the right track :)Can't wait to get some taties in the ground this Autumn.....have had great results from 'mizuna" this Summer...a Japanese green, very tasty.

    I use the "no poo" hair washing method and grated pure soap in the washing machine. Make my own bread and prepare all our meals from scratch. Have just canned my first jars of pasta sauce too made with my son's home-grown tomatoes of course.

    I also love to spend summer knitting and watching cricket/tennis LOL Have made(amongst cardigans for my grandies)some very usable dishclothes from 70%bamboo 30%cotton yarn that I found at spotlight....rather expensive but well wearing.

    Keep up the wonderful work,
    Sue Caissy(nr Perth)


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